The MSSA opened for its first summer session on July 17, 1883. Although the Assembly began small with only an amphitheater and dining hall, the summer courses offered on the grounds attracted many students and teachers, as most southern schools didn’t offer summer programs. The thousands of yearly visitors soon encouraged the Assembly to begin building projects which led to the creation of many cottages, public meeting halls and boarding rooms. In the 20th century, the MSSA, as well as a number of the other Assemblies modeled after Chautauqua, formed the International Chautauqua Alliance. This coalition brought the Assembly even greater popularity, and allowed it to begin showing guest ministers, lectures and entertainers from around the country during the summer season. However, the World Wars and Great Depression severely hindered the revenues and popularity of the MSSA, forcing it to close many cottages and discontinue nearly half their programs; many other Assemblies were forced to shut down during this period. It was nearly 30 years before interest returned to the MSSA, leading to the restoration and refurbishing of many cottages, as well as the introduction of new programs and guest speakers. This reawakening of interest peaked in the 1980s, when the MSSA held its Centennial Celebration and was added to the National Register of Historic Places. To this day, the MSSA is one of only 9 surviving Assemblies in the United States, and still receives thousands of visitors a year.